Instant Decisions and Promises
in the Future


There are many different ways to talk about the future in English. We use different verb tenses depending on what we want to say about the future.

In this lesson, we will learn how to talk about instant decisions and promises about the future.

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Instant decisions

An instant decision is one that we make based on current circumstances. When we must make a fast choice, this is an instant decision.

These are not our intentions for the future, but a decision we make very quickly.

For these instant decisions, we must use the simple future with will.

For example, imagine that you are in a restaurant and the waiter has offered you two specials: chicken or pasta.

Example:

Correct: Hmm, both of the specials sound really good, but I think I will have the chicken.

Incorrect: Hmm, both of the specials sound really good, but I think I am having the chicken.

Incorrect: Hmm, both of the specials sound really good, but I think I am going to have the chicken.

We don't use the present progressive or the future with going to when we are talking about instant decisions. Be sure to review the page on intentions and arrangements so you understand the difference.

Also go over the rules on how to form the simple future here before reading the examples below.


More examples:

  • Oh no, Henry has fallen! I'll help him clean his shirt and tie!
    (At the moment you see him fall, you decide to help.)

    Henry has fallen!

  • Rusty is chasing the mail carrier! I'll call him off!
    (When you see the dog chasing the mail carrier, you decided to call him off.)

    Rusty is chasing the mail carrier!

  • Goodness, Cheryl, are you sick? I'll make you some chicken soup.
    (When you see how sick she is, you decide to make her some soup.)

    Cheryl, are you sick?
  • That looks fun, Johnny! I'll push you, then you can push me!
    (When you see how much fun Johnny is having on the swing, you decide to push him.)

    That looks fun, Johnny!
  • Wendell looks really upset! I'll get him a glass of water. Maybe that will help calm him down.
    (When you see how angry he looks, you decide to get him a glass of water.)

    Wendell looks really upset! 

Remember that we also use the simple future with will when we are making offers. It is very common for an instant decision to be an offer. We use the simple future with will in both cases.

Promises

When we want to make a promise in English, we also use the simple future with will.


Example:

Correct: Thank you for the loan! I will pay you back next week.

Incorrect: Thank you for the loan! I am paying you back next week.

When we are making a promise, we must use the simple future with will. Since this is different from an intention or an arrangement, we cannot use the present continuous or the future with going to for a promise.


More examples:

  • I will be the best husband in the whole world.
    (This is what he promises to his wife.)

    I will be the best husband in the whole world.

  • I am an excellent teacher. I will have you dancing like a professional in just two months.
    (She promises fast results.)
I am an excellent teacher

  • I'm afraid I didn't see the sign there. I will pay for the damages.
    (He promises to pay for the damages.)
I will pay for the damages.

  • I am the best detective in the city! I will catch the robber for you.
    (He promises to catch the criminal.)
I am the best detective in the city!

  • I will brush my teeth every day to keep them clean and healthy!
    (This is his promise.)
I will brush my teeth every day to keep them clean and healthy!

These are examples of promises and instant decisions about the future. Be sure to review the other pages in this section to learn how to talk about the future using different verb tenses.

Also write some examples of your own to help you remember how to talk about promises and instant decisions.

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